Observers expect a record result from absentee ballots in the upcoming election. But there are concerns that blockchain technology could solve.
The campaign for the general election is entering a hot phase. While the candidates of the individual parties are still vying for the favor of the undecideds, there will probably be a new record in any case: the participation through postal voters. Some constituencies are already reporting record numbers. In Frankfurt am Main, for example, the head of the citizens’ office Oliver Becker told the German Press Agency (dpa) that 150,000 postal votes had already been cast in the Hessian financial metropolis – twice as many as in the last federal election, and that two weeks before the election. Election observers from North Rhine-Westphalia also noted a significant increase in participation through absentee ballots. In general, this figure was just under 28 percent in the last nationwide election in 2017. Speaking to ARD’s Hauptstadtstudio, Michael Kellner, campaign manager for the Green Party, predicted that postal voters would rise to between 40 and 50 percent.
And although the method of postal voting is considered safe in Germany, criticism of the procedure keeps coming up. For example, Robert Farle, an AFD member of the Magdeburg state parliament, warned of “the biggest election fraud of established parties”, while other AFD members expressed concern about “mass manipulation possibilities”. So far, the right-wing populist party has not been able to provide any evidence of this. Rather, they seem to be looking for reasons for a possibly disappointing election result – a similar strategy could already be observed in the past US election of former President Donald Trump.
In fact, there have been isolated cases of fraud in postal votes in Germany in the past. In 2021, a ballot in Rüsselsheim and Raunheim hit the headlines when irregularities were found in individual constituencies. Furthermore, another problem arises with the procedure. Because one cannot understand with the postal vote whether the vote was delivered independently, unobserved and uninfluenced. Various projects are now trying to solve these deficits using blockchain technology.
Postal voting via the Internet?
For example, the US project VoteXXis planning to move absentee voting to the Internet. In the future, citizens will be able to vote via their smartphones, the XX-Network explains to Yellow Rocket Agency:
Such remote internet voting offers numerous advantages: Convenience, low cost, more accurate ballot marking, quick reporting of results, and improved usability and accessibility, including support for multiple languages and long ballots.
XX-Network vs. Yellow Rocket Agency
“Blockchain a tool against hacks and vote buying”.
According to the project, such systems have so far been “out of fear of hacks and The “sale of votes” had not been used. Yet this problem exists with every type of remote voting, including absentee ballots. VoteXX wants to solve these challenges in two ways. First, the blockchain protects against malware attacks from the outside.
Every computer involved must commit to a digital audit trail by printing or posting it, without revealing how people voted. Voters and auditors then check everything from start to finish and confirm the accuracy of the results. This strategy turns the malware problem on its head.
XX-Network vs. Yellow Rocket Agency
Consequently, the malware would have to control every computer that ever accessed the data. On the other hand, the problem of vote-buying would also be eliminated, according to the company, since it would still be possible to reverse the vote even after it had been cast. The vote buyer would thus not be offered complete security that the vote is also in his interest. Here VoteXX relies on a so-called “flip code”, which is issued to the voter during registration and can be used to change the vote.
However, the project is not really ready for practice yet. There are currently no negotiations with the responsible authorities. As a next step, VoteXX plans to use the system initially for university elections in the USA. It remains to be seen whether it will then also be possible to digitize postal votes with its own concept.
In any case, there is still a long way to go before the system is ready for the market.